The Venus Express will soon plunge from the atmosphere surrounding the planet to its surface. This will end a study of the planet that began in 2006. That is when the Venus Express arrived at the planet. It was launched back in 2005 to study the planet. Since the study of Venus began, scientists of learned a lot about the planet and its surface. At one time, Venus was not all that different than Earth. Astronomy Magazine reported on the Venus Express and the end of its mission on May 19.
This scientific mission began when the Venus Express was launched in 2005 from Russian Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The probe was a product built by the European Space Agency. The probe arrived at Venus on April 11, 2006. Since its arrival, it has remained in orbit on a 24-hour loop around the planet. At its closest point to the surface, it is only 155 miles above the north pole. When it reaches the south pole, it is 41,000 miles above the surface.
On board the vessel, scientists have taken control of seven different instruments to study both the atmosphere and surface of the planet. An ESA representative, Håkan Svedhem, said the following about the study: "Venus Express has taught us just how variable the planet is on all timescales and, furthermore, has given us clues as to how it might have changed since its formation 4.6 billion years ago. This information is helping us decipher how Earth and Venus came to lead such dramatically different lives, but we've also noticed that there are some fundamental similarities."
Study of the planet's surface has shown that Venus once had a surface comparable to Earth's. There was once an ocean on the surface of Venus. The planet also has a "plate tectonics system like Earth." Studies have shown that lightning is also present on the planet's surface. Volcanoes were also found on the surface, and the planet might still be geologically active. Venus is definitely hotter than Earth. Temperature on the planet is at 840 degrees Fahrenheit. However, both Venus and Earth came into existence at roughly the same time. Scientists calls Venus a "sister planet" to Earth.
The Venus Express has completed its eight-year long study of the surface of Venus, and it is set to begin its plunge to the surface on June 18. The plunge will end on July 11, according to Space.com. During the descent, the Venus Express will take more readings to send back to scientists. These readings will be of the temperature and pressure during the descent. Once those readings are complete, the Venus Express will have finished its mission completely.
This is not the first mission to Venus, and it will not be the last. The Japanese will have a shot at exploring the planet themselves after a failed attempt in 2010. There is still much to be learned about this "sister planet" of Earth. Scientists will not end their studies anytime soon. It is just time for the Venus Express to end its journey.